Posts Tagged ‘hamster’


First came their home, the gerbilarium, a three storey wire and plastic cage. Gabe, Eliza and Robin sat around it, imagining how it would be inhabited. Over a week later, the gerbils came. Three eight week old brothers, bought from a different store of the Pets at Home chain that had supplied the unlucky Sandy. Gabe was particulary conflicted about this: he so wanted a gerbil, but so distrusted any store that had sold us Eliza’s short-lived hamsters.

Romano (light gold, with a white patch on his back), Bayjay (darker gold) and Silver, belonging respectively to Gabe, Eliza and Robin. Better than telly, said Eliza, about watching them skitter about the cage. After three days they were judged to be settled enough to be handled. We took the gerbilarium to the bathroom and placed it in the empty bath. First to emerge was Bayjay, who slithered and slid around Eliza and my hands before running circuits around the bath. Silver came next, nipping at fingers, too agitated for Robin to hold comfortably, driving him to tears. Romano stayed buried in the wood shavings. He debuted two days later, giving Gabe, the most nervous of pet owners, the thrill of a hold and stroke. Silver, still apt to lead with the teeth, made up a little with Robin. Eliza, with an air of experience, had a play with Bayjay.


Lamb in the van and Coco


Two workmen came to size up some work in the garden for a quote. While we spoke, a lamb cried from inside their van. They brought her into the garden, apologising that they had run out of nappies. Eliza and Robin tore out to see the orphan lamb, jabbing their hands forward in a nervous effort at stroking, following her around and shrieking with laughter when she weed on the step outside the living room.


Coco is Eliza’s new hamster. She is every bit as excited as she was with Sandy and Crystal. It’s an excitement that can quickly become upset, as it did when Coco nearly knawed her way out of the travel box in the car on the way back from the shop. Gabe’s reaction, while calmer, is more touching. He dearly wants Coco to survive longer than her two predecessors, saying he couldn’t bear another hamster to die quickly.

Too babyish


Robin has been refusing to have a bedtime story. He won’t chose, or have chosen, a book from the three shelves crammed with books in his room. Old favourites – Dinosaurs love underpants, What people do all day, Emergency vehicles – are eschewed. New departures are refused. His complaint is that the books are too babyish. But when offered something from Eliza’s library, he complains it is too girlish. L took the kids to the library. Gabe found him books and read them to him. He only agreed to taking away a single book. I am concerned this may be the first indications of a laddish rejection of learning.


Eliza ran to her room to show Crystal to Nan and Grandad. She screeched and wailed when she found Crystal curled and motionless in her cage. Crystal moved a little and Nan’s explanation of hibernation gathered a little traction. We kept Crystal warm but after a second night pronounced her dead. Eliza coped, probably helped by Crystal’s gradual demise while we pursued the idea of hibernation. L agreed with Eliza that we would wait until the spring to decide whether to introduce a third hamster into our family.


Gabe excelled in our tobagganing expedition with Nan and Grandad. He pushed himself first and most frequently down the short, steep slopes. He also went with Eliza to see her friend who was playing the woods and asked if she would like to play with us on our part of the slope.

Sandy is dead; long live Crystal


Sandy turned out to be not shy, but ailing. Rarely seen, never going near his wheel or chewing the bars of his cage, the big clue came when he didn’t eat his hamster muesli. He was still alive when L returned him to the petshop. The kids were told and Eliza sobbed. She asked to visit him and thought this particularly important if she was to accept our offer of a new hamster. He died before visiting became an issue.

So we went on a hunt for a new hamster, avoiding the pet superstore from where Sandy had come and been returned to. We found a grey Syrian hamster, twice the age and three times the size of Sandy. Crystal has a bit of rat about her, which should make her more resilient. She was ready to be handled straight away and Eliza is bonding with her, even allowing for the nip on the finger she got today.


Gabe was as upset as Eliza, finding it difficult to go to sleep the evening he was told about Sandy’s illness. The next day, knowing that Sandy had died, Gabe felt better, explaining that it was Sandy being sick that had made him so sad. He did want a detailed explanation of Sandy’s illness and worried that L’s efforts to disinfect the cage wouldn’t be sufficient.

Gabe’s school underwent an inspection. His literacy class was observed, with the inspector sitting close to Gabe. At the inspector’s insistence, Gabe was given the ‘Star of the Day’ award, for being particularly bright and helpful.


Robin is now revelling in being one of the older boys at his under-5s football club. In the short match at the end of the session, he scores regularly, gets stuck in making tackles and even heeds his brother’s advice to find space when a teammate has the ball.